One of the biggest boxing shocks this year saw Panama's Jezreel Corrales (20-1-0-1, 8) travel to Tokyo and blitz long reigning WBA Super Featherweight “super” champion Takashi Uchiyama (24-1-1, 20) in just 2 rounds. The result put a genuine shockwave through Japanese boxing and, amazingly, saw fans are call those in the venue liars as the bout wasn't broadcast live on TV and though people at the venue were originally on the wind up. It seems to think, but there were people suggesting that those in attendance were trying to make people tune in to the delayed broadcast.
In their first fight Corrales seemed to shock Uchiyama from the opening round. He was too quick, too sharp, and unexpectedly heavy handed. Although Uchiyama saw out the opening round it was clear he was uncomfortable and in round 2 he stopped following 3 knockdowns in the round. It was a genuine jaw dropped, and even those people who tipped Corrales hasn't expected such a result, especially given that Corrales was pegged as a defensive genius and not a power puncher.
On December 31st the two men face off again with Corrales looking to prove the first fight wasn't a fluke, and that he really does have Uchiyama's number whilst Uchiyama is looking to roll back the clock and put on a performance to remember, despite being 37 years old and a 11 year veteran of professional boxing.
When Uchiyama was at his best he was a vicious fighter with a thunderous right hand, a rigth hand that earned him the nickname “KO Dynamite”, he was accurate, defensively sound and a brilliant reader of range and tempo, knowing when to let his hands go and when to step back from his foe. As he's gotten older however he has slowed significantly, and he wasn't never lightning quick to begin with. As he's slowed he has become more defensively liable and can be caught by quick fighters.
During his 6 year run as champion Uchiyama recorded 11 defenses and beat the likes of Takashi Miura, Jorge Solis, Bryan Vasquez, Daiki Kaneko and Jomthong Chuwatana. At times he looked less than great, such as again Kaneko, other times however he looked incredible and combined his boxing ability and thunderous power with a real mean streak that saw him looking like he was out to hurt opponents. Sadly as he's gotten older some of that meanness has worn off and niggling injuries have taken a toll on his body and effectiveness in the ring. That was certainly seen against Corrales in their first bout, when a slow looking Uchiyama looked unsure of himself from part way through the opening round until the end.
Known as “El Invisible” Corrales has a reputation as being a defensively clever boxer who was hard to tag and was never in the same place for long. Offensively he wasn't seen as anything exception and in all honesty very little on his record stood out prior to him facing Uchiyama. In many wins his only real wins of note had come against Rene Alvarado, Walter Estrada and Juan Antonio Rodriguez. Interestingly however he had stopped his 5 opponents previous to facing Uchiyama and seemingly had changed styles into one that was sitting on his punches more than he had early in his career. Those KO's have seen him turn his record from 13-1 (2) to 20-1-0-1 (8), with 5 stoppages in his last 7 wins.
Against Uchiyama we saw Corrales not only look destructive but also intelligently wild. His shots came from unusual angles, he switched a bit, squared up a bit too much but knew that he had his man hurt and that the shots thrown from all over the place were landing and hurting a man who looked lost. The accuracy might not have been great but the speed and power were impressive and prevented Uchiyama from ever recovering or resettling to the task at hand.
It's easy to think that Corrales' first win was a fluke. It's easy to say that Uchiyama had an off night, wasn't his usual self and wasn't expecting what he got from Corrales. The truth however is that Uchiyama is no longer a man in his prime, he's a long way removed from his best and age defeats all men, as we saw recently with Bernard Hopkins. That's likely to be the case again here, and we suspect that great Uchiyama will retire following the bout. He may still have a surprise “last” performance in the tank, as we recently saw from Hozumi Hasegawa against Hugo Ruiz, but we would be genuinely surprised to see that happen here against Corrales, who simply looks like a man who is a stylistic nightmare for the popular Japanese puncher.
To end 2016 we'll see WBA Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (25-2-1, 11) return to the ring as he looks for his 6th title defense, and takes on the unbeaten Venezuelan puncher Carlos Canizales (16-0, 13). On paper it looks like a great match up and a fantastic test for the champion but the reality is that we know next to nothing about Canizales, and really can't explain his top #3 ranking with the WBA.
On paper Canizales does look good. Unbeaten in 16, with an 83% stoppage rate, a catchy nickname “CCC”, similar to Golovkin in both respects, and at 23 presumably has a lot of potential and the belief of his team. Sadly though that potential and belief hasn't been backed up by his match making so far, in fact he has only faced 2 opponents with “winning records”, according to boxrec.com, and the most proven of those is Robert Barrera who was 12-0 (7) as the time and has since reeled off 4 more wins to sit at 16-1 (10).
There isn't a lot of great footage of Canizales but what is available makes him look to be an aggressive fighter who likes to throw powerful shots, including a wild roundhouse right hand. He's not the most accurate, or the quickest but he has serious belief in his power and is a fighter who looks like he could become a decent fighter one day. Sadly his open offense is partnered with an open defense and again a world class fighter his wild shots will be countered and his power probably won't have the effect at world level as it's had at Venezuelan national level.
Whilst is little known it's fair to say that Taguchi is becoming more and more known, in fact he's the longest active reigning world at 108lbs. His reign began at the end of 2014, when he beat Alberto Rossel, and has since distinguished himself with wins over Kwanthai Sithmorseng, Luis De la Rosa, Juan Jose Landaeta and Ryo Miyazaki. Those wins haven't set the world on fire by any means but have helped Taguchi move on from merely being “the man to take Naoya Inoue the distance”, which he did in a Japanese title fight back in 2013.
Taguchi a huge fighter at 108lbs, he's gangly, rangy, tough, tricky and talented. He's certainly not a big puncher, despite stopping 3 of his last 4, but he's a solid puncher who can hurt fighters and grind them down with his surprisingly good body shots. Technically Taguchi is very solid, but can be inconsistent as we've seen in bouts against De La Rosa, Ryan Bito and Florante Condes. When he's at his best however he is a handful for anyone in, or around, the Light Flyweight division, and given his size he can certainly move up in weight.
If Taguchi is at, or close to, his best he defeats Canizales with ease using his reach and skills. If however he's off his game he could be pushed hard here. Saying that however even at his worst we can't see Canizales beating him here, in fact we suspect this will be either a wide decision for Taguchi, if he''s off song and has to work hard for every round, or a mid round stoppage if he's close to his best.
With 5 word title bouts taking place on December 31st in Japan we could have expected they would all be mismatches in favour of the local fighters. There is however one clear exception to that rule, in fact the bout in question is seen as a massive mismatch in favour of the visitor who is viewed by many as having the bout in the bag before the fighters have even stepped in the ring. That bout is the IBF Super Bantamweight title bout between explosive champion Jonathan Guzman (22-0-0-1, 22) and Japanese challenger Yukinori Oguni (18-1-1, 7), a former Japanese and OPBF champion.
Of the two men it's Guzman who is more well known. He's the champion and he's proven his ability against a series of notable fighters. That's included stoppage wins over the likes of Christian Esquivel, Danny Aquino, Daniel Rosas and most notable Shingo Wake, who he beat in July to win the title in Japan. The only blotch on his other wise perfect record is a no contenst from 2013, in a fight with Luis Hinojosa and since then he has stopped 11 foes in 48 rounds.
Although not the smoothest boxer, or the most rounded of fighters Guzman is a a monster and every shot he lands is damaging. His shots all look concussive and his belief in his power is incredible. Not only does he appear to be a big puncher but, worryingly for opponents, he appears to take a good shot too and has solid stamina allowing him to work at a high rate through out the bout, a surprise for such a banger. Whilst he did dominate Wake there were times he looked like he was flagging, before coming back a round later looking rejuvenated and it's clear that he's going to be a nightmare to fight for anyone in the sport.
Whilst Guzman is a monstrous Super Bantamweight with frightening power and physical strength the same cannot be said of Oguni, who is more of a pure boxer with skills and counter punching, along with speed to burn. Early in his career Oguni looked like a world champion in the making, and one on the fast track to the top. In just his 11th bout he claimed the OPBF Super Bantamweight title, defeating Roli Gasca, and defended it 3 times. Sadly though his rise was ended in 2013 by Wake, who totally dominated him before scoring a 10th round retirement win against Oguni, who looked under-powered. Since that loss Oguni has won the Japanese title and scored notable wins over Yasutaka Ishimoto, Taiki Minamoto and Mike Tawatchai, stopping Tawatchai in 5 rounds earlier this year.
Although Oguni is a pure boxer he has shown an improvement in power recently stopping his last 3 foes, including Tawatchai, and appears to be a fighter who is maturing into a more rounded fighter. He is still a speed based fighter but one who appears to be growing more confident. That confidence could cost him here if he decides to stand his ground and instead he will have to stay on the move, keep Guzman of balance and try to frustrate and tire out the champion.
Although Oguni is a genuinely credible top 10 top of Super Bantamweight this is an incredible tough bout for the challenger and one that we don't see him coming out on top of. We think Oguni has the potential to reach the top, but this bout is one that his lack of fire power will cost him and Guzman will likely stop him in the middle rounds, if not earlier. Oguni has the ability to move for a few rounds but once he feels Guzman's power we suspect he'll look to survive before being broken down.
The boxing calender has several key dates on it that we all mark off at the start of the year. One of those is the “Golden Week” where Japanese fight fans get several notable shows over the space of a week, another is Cinco de Mayo, another is in Mid-September and a final one comes at the end of the year, where we have a tradition of big fights in Japan. Part of that end of year tradition is the huge TBS show which is headlined by Osakan star Kazuto Ioka (20-1, 12) who returns for his 5th year ending bout this year, and takes on unbeaten Thai Stamp Kiatniwat (15-0, 6), AKA Yutthana Kaensa, in a bout for Ioka's WBA Flyweight title. For Ioka the bout is a chance to extend his reign and his dominance of the end of year boxing TV ratings whilst Stamp will get his first shot at a regular title having held the interim belt for a little over a year.
Ioka really is a star of Japanese boxing. He's the face of the Osakan boxing scene and is a man who has been a star from the very early stages of his professional career, building on a solid amateur background. In just his 6th bout he claimed the Japanese Light Flyweight title before setting a then Japanese record by winning a world title in his 7th bout, stopping the then unbeaten Oleydong Sithsamerchai. Since beating Oleydong, for the WBC Minimumweight title, we have seen Ioka unify titles, adding the WBA title to his WBC belt at 105lbs, and claim world titles at both 108lbs and 112lbs, becoming the “quickest” fight to become a 3-weight champion in just 18 bouts!
Whilst Ioka isn't a flawless fighter, and looks set to be over-shadowed by the emerging talent of Naoya Inoue, he is a very rounded fighter who has added things to his game through out his career and grown into a fully fledged Flyweight. Early in his career he was a boxer though has shown an ability to brawl when he needs to, to counter punch when he wants to and fight in various styles. One constant through his career however has been his body shots which have finished off numerous opponents through his career and appears to a staple of his in ring mentality. Those body shot are thrown both as singles and as part of combinations and it's really when he gets those combinations going that he looks like a special fighter.
Although at first we did question Ioka's move to Flyweight, and he did appear to struggle with the weight to begin with, he has now matured into a very strong 112lb fighter and is seemingly the stand out fighter in the division, with the division currently under-going a major transitional period. A win here would further strengthen his standing in the sport and will potentially open up some big bouts for 2017.
Whilst Ioka is a star of Japanese boxing it seems like Thai boxing had been trying to push Stamp Kiatniwat as a future star of Thai boxing. He debuted at the prodigious age of 15 and looked like a natural talent as he picked up a series of wins against fellow novices. Those wins built some hype and momentum in 2013 and 2014 before Stamp took on, and defeated, former world champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng in August 2014. That win really put Stamp on the radar for international fans of the lower weights and got some really excited about his potential.
Sadly since beating Kwanthai we've not really seen Stamp develop into a star despite winning the interim PABA and WBA Flyweight titles, with two razor thin wins over Gregorio Lebron to win and retain the “Interim” WBA crown. In both of those bouts Stamp seemed like the bigger single puncher hitter but looked like a scared child at times against an aggressive and hard working Lebron who forced the action and hurt the youngster. In some ways they were character building bouts for Stamp but the reality is they showed he wasn't the star in the making that his promoter had hoped he'd become.
Whilst Stamp did show some early potential we really see this as being a massive mismatch and give him no chance at all against Ioka who will likely look for a stoppage in the middle rounds, almost certainly with a body shot. Stamp can hit harder than his record indicates but we'd be amazed to see him do anything to back up Ioka who will look in control from the opening seconds to the eventual stoppage. Hopefully in 2017 bouts with the likes of Takuya Kogawa, Daigo Higa, Donnie Nietes, Francisco Rodriguez Jr and McWillians Arroyo will come to fruition for Ioka who now needs some big names on his record given how unspectacular 2016 has been for him.
The first of 5 world title fights on December 31st will see former WBO Minimumweight champions face off in an attempt to become the new WBO Light Flyweight champion. The fighters in question are Japanese youngster Kosei Tanaka (7-0, 4) and experienced Mexican Moises Fuentes (24-2-1, 13), who is also a former WBO “interim” Light Flyweight champion who is looking to claim this title at the third time of asking.
Of the two men the Mexican visitor is probably the more well known. He's a man who has been a professional since 2007 and has gradually moved through the ranks. He claimed his first title back in 2010, the “interim” WBC Youth Minimumweight title, before upsetting Raul Garcia in 2011 for the WBO Minimumweight crown. As the champion Fuentes defended the belt twice, beating Julio Cesar Felix and the brilliant but faded Ivan Calderon. Following those wins he moved his attention to 108lbs and began his campaign there with a draw against the then WBO champion Donnie Nietes.
Following the draw to Nietes we saw Fuentes remain in the mix and quickly claim the “interim” title before getting a rematch with Nietes in 2014, a rematch that saw Fuentes suffer a 9th round KO loss to the brilliant Filipino. Since that loss Fuentes has strung together some solid victories over he likes of Oswaldo Novoa, Francisco Rodriguez Jr and Rommel Asenjo to put himself into another shot for the Light Flyweight title.
At his best Fuentes is a big, aggressive, hard working fighter who combines a high level of aggressive output with under-rated skills. His most notable aggressive work is aimed at the body of opponents and in his first fight with Nietes it seemed that that body attack took a lot out of the Filipino, though in the rematch Nietes managed to move and counter more effectively and broke down Fuentes. Whilst Fuentes is a big, tough and aggressive fighter he is also a fighter who has had a long and hard career with 157 rounds under his belt and the 31 year old has had some very hard and damaging bouts.
Whilst less well known to wider boxing fans Tanaka is a fighter who is well known in Japanese boxing circles. He was a former amateur standout and one of the many to make his name on the High School scene as a teenager. That amateur pedigree saw his signature being one that promoters chased for when he decided to turn professional, eventually signing with former world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka. Together they set some incredible goals and raced off to them double quickly. That saw Tanaka claiming the OPBF title in his 4th fight, stopping the then 18-0 Ryuji Hara, and the WBO Minimumweight title in Tanaka's 5th professional bout, out pointing Julian Yedras.
Despite the champion at 105lbs Tanaka was struggling to make weight and that became clear in his first defense, when he was dropped by Vic Saludar before gritting his teeth and stopping Saludar in the 6th round, whilst well behind on the score cards. It was a genuine gutcheck for Tanaka and one he passed, whilst also making it clear that he wasn't going to stick around any longer at 105lbs. Instead he moved up in weight and scored a dominant win over Rene Patilano back in May to announce himself at a higher weight.
At his best Tanaka is one of the sports most exciting youngsters. He's lightning quick with his hands and has some of the best combination punching in the sport, he's light on his feet, well schooled and has under-rated power. Sadly though he can be bullied, as seen in the Saludar fight, he can also switch off at times, as he did against Yedras, and his defense can fall apart a bit too easily. Offensively he is great but that offensive may only carry him so far before his defensive issues cost him, and that could well happen at 108lbs against a tough and aggressive fighter like Fuentes.
Coming in to this bout Tanaka is the clear betting favourite however we suspect he will be pushed all the way here in what will be a very tough and exciting bout. Fuentes' aggressiveness will be hard for Tanaka to deal with but given how Nietes beat Fuentes we suspect Tanaka will have a game plan based on countering, movement and speed. If he can counter Fuentes and force the Mexican to make mistakes he should come out on top, but will be given another serious test by a very determined visitor.
When it comes to popular Japanese fighters with an international fan base based more on their style than their records no one matches the all-action Akira Yaegashi (24-5, 12), who could put on a FOTY contender with a broom. Though his memorable career he has has thrillers with the likes of Kenichi Horikawa, Pornasawn Porpramook, Kazuto Ioka, Toshiyuki Igarashi, Roman Gonzalez, Javier Mendoza and Martin Tecuapetla. It's hard to think of many bad fights with Yaegashi and we're expecting another really fun one this coming Friday when he takes on Samartlek Kokietgym (33-5, 12)*, who will be taking part in his second world title fight.
Yaegashi, the current IBF Light Flyweight champion, isn't just one of Japan's most exciting fighters but is one of the sports most exciting fighters. He combines an incredible will to win, which has been a downfall in the past, with an aggressive action based style, and an incredible work rate and desire. That desire saw him break down Pornsawan in a FOTY contender, and see out some torrid rounds against Tecuapetla as well as put on a FOTY candidate with Mendoza.
Yaegashi is one of the few Japanese fighters to be a genuine 3-weight champion. He has won titles at 105lbs, 112lbs and 108lbs and it's that 108lb weight class that he seems most suited to. Sadly however he is closing in on his 34th birthday and his time at the top looks unlikely to last long, especially given how long and hard his career has been. He already has 222 rounds under his belt and although he's only fought 29 bouts he has had 17 at title level, and 11 at world title level, with those bouts often being draining wars.
Although a warrior, through and through, Yaegashi can box and has shown that through his career, sadly though his warrior mentality has kicked in more often than not, meaning that even the most simple of bouts have been wars. That has sadly left him suffering multiple injuries, from bad facial damage to a broken Temporomandibular Joint and a serious shoulder injury, that has kept him out of the ring most of this year. Those injuries, and damage, have accumulated and will almost certainly affect him going forward.
Although relatively unknown Samartlek is a fighter on a role, and a fighter who has proven his toughness in the past, along with proving he can travel and can fight, a bit. He's best known for lasting 11 rounds in 2014 with Yaegashi's stablemate Naoya Inoue but has been a success in Thailand where he has been racking up a long string of wins since losing the “The Monster”.
The 32 year old challenger was originally a Muay Thai kick boxer before turning to boxing back in 2010. In a little over 6 years he has racked up either a 31-5 (12) record or a 33-5 record, depending on the source. That record has included losses to Inthanon Sithchamuang, Denver Cuello, Yuki Chinen, Randy Petalcorin and Inoue along with wins against the likes of Inthanon and Muhammad Rachman,
At his best Samartlek has proven to be a tough and gutsy fighter, he pushed Chinen close, bounced off the canvas multiple times against Petalcorin and lasted until round 11 with Inoue. He has also shown signs of improvement and has won his last 14 bouts, 14 fought since losing to Inoue a little more than 2 years ago. The improvement is thought to be more than he has shown with work alongside Kompayak Porpramook said to have improved his body work and made him a more rounded fighter.
Wither neither man having huge amounts of power, and both being aggressively minded guys who let leather go we're expecting something a bit special here with both letting their shots go. We have to favour Yaegashi, who has the experience and proven class, but we're expecting a very special action bout here with both men standing and trading blows. Yaegashi will likely look swollen and damaged but we genuinely expect him to be the clear winner on the cards.
On the final two days of 2016 Japanese fight fans will get a series of world title bouts, ranging from intriguing rematches to complete mismatches. One of the most anticipated of those bouts will see WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (11-0, 9) return to the ring to seek his 4th defense of the title, as he takes on former 2-time WBA champion Kohei Kono (32-9-1, 13), and looks to secure one of the most notable wins of his career.
If you ask a typical western boxing fan right now what Japanese fighters they could name Inoue will be one of the few names on their lips, a sad fact in many ways but one that shows the appeal of the “Monster” who has been named dropped across Western boxing media, including by HBO. The 23 year old Kanagawa fighter isn't just a name who has been dropped by Western media but also by every hardcore fight fan, many of whom have seen Inoue fight either live on Fuji TV or on Youtube, and understandably they have been impressed by a youngster who combines exceptional skills, power and speed.
Inoue burst out in 2014 when he claimed the WBC Light Flyweight title, stopping Adrian Hernandez in 6 rounds, and then went on to claim the WBO Super Flyweight title with a stoppage against Omar Andres Narvaez. Those bouts saw Inoue prove he was the monster and saw him claiming world titles in his 6th and 8th bouts as a professional, with the win over Narvaez exciting people to a potential show down with Roman Gonzalez.
Although Inoue hasn't looked his best in recent bouts, wins over David Carmona and Petchbarngborn Kokietgym, he has been plagued by issues including over-training and over-looking his opponents. Coming in to the bout with Kono however he has cut back his training and will have taken Kono seriously, knowing this is a huge chance to remind fans just how good he is, how fast he is and how destructive he is.
During a 42 fight career Kono has been one of boxing's true over-achievers. He lost on debut back in November 2000 and suffered his second lost in his 10th bout to fall to 8-2 (2). He again fell to a loss in 2005 as his record fell to 14-3 (4). At that point his career could easily have fallen by the way side but instead he took lessons from those losses and avenged that third defeat less than 2 years later as he claimed the Japanese Super Flyweight title, his first professional title. He would later unify with the OPBF title in 2008 but failed to claim a world title in his first attempt, losing in a thriller to Nobuo Nashiro. A second loss at world level occurred in 2010, to Tomas Rojas, before he suffered losses to Yota Sato and Yohei Tobe, falling to 25-7 (9).
Amazingly since the start of 2012 Kono's career has gone 7-2-1 (4) with wins against Petchbarngborn Kokietgym, Tepparith Kokietgym, to claim his first world title, Denkaosan Kaovichit, to claim his second title, Koki Kameda and Inthanon Sithchamuang whilst losses have come in close decisions to to Liborio Solis and Luis Concepcion.
In the ring Kono is an incredibly tough man, he has been down several times during his career, and has been hurt even more often, but has never stopped coming forward and trying to fight. Although tougher than old boots Kono is technically limited, a bit slow, and likes to walk forward before letting his hands go. He's solid with a high work rate and a great energy level but he doesn't really work to get his way in and instead applies often clumsy pressure, allowing fighters to out work and out move him.
Whilst Inoue's last few opponents haven't been exceptional it's fair to say Kono is genuine world class. Sadly though Inoue has been better against top opponents than against the lesser foes and his father has set a more relaxed training regime this time, to help prevent injuries. With that in mind we're expecting to see the best Inoue to date, and we're expecting to see him use his speed and power to dismantle a tough, and brave, Kono within 9 rounds.
Earlier this year we saw Panamanian based Venezuelan Nehomar Cermeno (25-5-1-1, 15) revive his career out of nowhere as he scored a dominant stoppage win against Qiu Xiao Jun (21-3, 10) to claim the WBA Super Bantamweight title. At the time the win was seen as an upset with Cermeno being a 36 year old who had essentially fought just 23 rounds in the previous 3 years, and the fact he was fighting in front of a very pro-Jun audience in Beijing. In the ring however the bout was a battle of skills and sadly for Jun he lacked them in comparison to Cermeno who gave him a boxing lesson.
Since reviving his career with the 12th round TKO win over Jun we've seen Cermeno shake off some more ring rust as he recorded his first defense of the title, scoring a brutal 3rd round KO against Nop Kratingdaenggym. He again showed his skills, timing and under-rated speed, and it looked like the veteran still had a lot left in the tank and to offer the sport.
At his very best Cermeno was a real handful. He twice defeated the brilliant Cristian Mijares, and twice lost in razor thin bouts to Anselmo Moreno, as well as a very debatable defeat to Victor Terrazas. Sadly for Cermeno the loss to Terrazas saw his career take a slide with a stoppage loss against Fernando Montiel, a draw with Yoandris Salinas and a loss to Alexander Bahktin. Those set backs, which came one after the other, saw Cermeno's record fall from 18-0 (10) to 20-5-1 (12) and saw many suggest his career was over. He would take a while out of the ring but has since gone 5-0-0-1 (3) taking the unbeaten record of Oscar Escandon and Nop, as well as his first win over Jun.
Although Cermeno as once one of the most under-rated talents in the sport he is now 37 and questions have to be asked about how long he can continue to put his body through the rigours of training.
As for Jun the first loss to Cermeno has been put down to an injury, something that was recently revealed in the Chinese press, though there will obviously be doubts about the legitimacy or significance of the injury. Since that defeat however the Dragon has bounced back, dominating Filipino Robert Udtohan en route to a 3rd round stoppage win, with that win coming on the same show as Cermeno's win over Nop. That bout saw an improved looking Jun fighting with more conviction than he had against Cermeno. Whether that was due to the injury from the Cermeno bout having healed or just being more comfortable against the Filipino is however debatable.
At his best Jun is a pretty basic fighter. Like many Chinese fighter's he's a bit crude, a bit physical and a bit rough around the edges, though has a much more traditional style than the wild Ik Yang. The rough edges disguise a genuinely promising fighter who is hard working, determined and showing regular signs of improvement. He is still a bit right hand happy, and it's clear he's not a natural boxer, but his team have worked hard to smooth off his flaws and have developed a solid but basic fighter. Sadly whilst Jun at his best is decent, Jun at his worst is slow, lumbering, open and wild, the type of fighter who is made to order for a skilled boxer like Cermeno.
Although Jun may have been carrying an injury into his first bout with Cermeno it wasn't the injury that decided the result. Instead it was the gulf in skills. That is likely to be the issue again here with Cermeno almost certainly set to retain his title. A fully fit Jun might be able to see out the final bell, but the reality is that Cermeno isn't coming in with a load of ring rust this time around, he's had 15 rounds this year alone, more than he had in 2014 and 2015 combined, and isn't likely to need as much time to get his timing and distance here as he did in the first bout. We wouldn't be shocked to see Jun being stopped again here.
The Minimumweight division has had a very, very, under-rated year in 2016 with the key part of that being the Thai pairing of WBC champion Wanehng Menayothin, who defeated mandatory challenger Saul Juarez, and WBA champion Knockout CP Freshmart (13-0, 6) who scored notable wins over the Nicaraguan pairing of Carlos Buitrago and Byron Rojas. Knockout will look to close out the year with one more notable win as he takes on former OPBF champion Shin Ono (19-7-3, 3).
Knockout, who has fought in title bouts through out his professional boxing career, claimed the WBA interim title in late 2014, with a close win over Carlos Buitrago, but has improved since then as he showed in his second bout with Buitrago. That rematch with Buitrago was Knockout's 3rd defense of the interim title with the talented Thai claiming the full version of title when he out boxed Byron Rojas in June.
At his worst Knockout can look a bit clumsy, a bit stationary and a but lazy in the ring, with his style being a fairly rigid one. Thankfully though it does seem, fight by fight, that he's improving and is becoming a more rounded fighter, taking lessons from every fight he has. That doesn't mean he's a totally rounded fighter but he is one that is showing real improvement. His guard is strong, his footwork is very under-rated and his hands, whilst not concussive, are heavy. Given that he's fighting in Thailand he's also well adjusted to the Thai conditions, has solid stamina, even in the humidity of The land of Smiles, and can step it up if he needs to late in a bout.
At his best Ono is a solid fighter, he's a tricky southpaw with nice movement, nice speed and good skills. He does however lack in terms of power, stamina and in recent fights he has began to look like a 33, soon to be 34, year old who has had a hard career. A May 2015 loss to Katsunari Takayama, for the IBF title, saw Ono impress but it would be 26 months until he would have another bout of note and was dominated by a hungry Kenichi Horikawa, who became the first man to stop Ono. Last time out Ono was being outboxed by Tatsuya Fukuhara before a headclash bailed out Ono with a technical draw.
Through his career Ono has fought numerous notable opponents. That has seen him claim wins over the Toshimasa Ouchi, Yu Kimura, Xiong Zhao Zhong and Omari Kimweri, but the most recent of those notable wins was the win over Kimweri almost 4 years ago. Added to the poor recent form is inactivity, which has seen him fighting just 3 times in the last 24 months, going 1-1-1 during that run.
At his best Ono may have given the worst Knockout a good bout, but the reality is that Ono is a faded fighter and Knockout is a drastically improving one who should be able to bully and break down the challenger, likely ending the bout in the later rounds.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.